It is a rule.
Unspoken, but understood.
New visitors quickly learn the futility of escape.
For me, a time does not exist without it.
I help my father pull out two long cardboard boxes, careful to avoid tearing them with the heavy weight inside.
“I want I Get Around,” I say, requesting one of my favorite Beach Boys songs.
He pulls the vinyl from the sleeve, gently placing it onto the turntable and setting the needle.
I fly into action as the words blast through the speakers. I jump, twirl, spin, flail, and somersault over the couch. My little sister joins in, mimicking my movements.
I perform my own brand of dance, as I execute the jumps away from the tiny corner where the record player sits to avoid being scolded for skipping the songs.
I am not always successful.
“Now the Moody Blues!” I say, waiting impatiently as my dad trades the records. The instrumental introduction of The Voice crescendos as I switch to ballet-like moves, arms arcing, toes pointing, a slow turn. I wait for the moment the band explodes. Waiting. Waiting.
The drums kick in and I go crazy, accidentally skipping the song with my enthusiasm.
“Now Star Wars! The throne room song!”
And on and on, until I exhaust my favorites.
Not every night, but many.
The addition of a tape deck puts the power into my hands. I wait with patience, stopping to check the progress, to see if I’ve reached the beginning of the song I want. I find it and push the “memory” button on the fancy player.
Thunder crackles and a wolf howls. Footsteps. My favorite song surrounds me as the beat of Thriller kicks in.
I move with more control now, the product of dance classes. Last year the high school kids performed it at our recital, complete with a fog machine and glowing eyes. I try to remember their moves and sway to the beat.
My sister is my shadow again.
At the end, I push rewind and auto play. To me, it is magic, how the tape counts down to zero, replaying my song even though it is the last one on this side of the tape.
And we dance.
The Making of Thriller opens my eyes. I hate zombies, unless they dance.
The movie Breakin’ stirs longing in me, to dance as they do. To spin on my head. To somehow isolate my movements in an unfathomable way.
The best I manage is the caterpillar.
I grow, I change. But always I dance.
My brother is born, and we start him young, showing him the joy in it.
My best friend joins in my dance class. We learn hip hop and jazz.
Seniors in high school now, she tries tumbling with me – our oldest classmate is nine years old.
We don’t care. Much.
Our group of friends consists of us and multiple guys – who are silly and fun and make us laugh.
They learn the rule she has known for so long.
At my house when the music plays, you dance. There are no wallflowers.
They grumble and moan, but join in.
They dance. For some of them the only time outside of a future wedding.
Outside opportunities to dance dwindle as I graduate college. It hurts, this missing piece.
But at home, when the music plays, I still dance. My husband – who learned “The Rule” long ago – and two children join in with their spastic craziness.
I smile, joy at passing on the love dance.
Sometimes a chance arises to recapture my love of performing.
And I dance. To the magical music of my past.
* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *
Let’s make it more literal.
Write about a time that rhythm, or a lack thereof, played a role in your life. And don’t use the word “rhythm.”
Maybe it’s a time that you danced to a special song. Maybe it’s a period of your life during which the days were marked by a distinct pattern. Or maybe it’s a time that you couldn’t catch your breath because life just kept coming at your randomly.
It’s up to you.
Let’s see if you can convey that rhythm using your writing, and not the word itself.
* * *
For those of you curious to see my love of dance in action, you can see me perform HERE. I’m the one who sticks out because I have the white shirt on.
There is a reason my Mommy blog is called “Dances with Chaos“…